See this sweet binder? I scored it nearly 30 years ago and ever since then, it's pages have housed one of the most sterile, unique and random wrestling trading card collections I've ever seen.
Get ready to explore.... The Classic WWF trading card series from 1990!!!
Case in point - name me one other card collection (or, hell, any kind of collection) that includes "The Widow Maker" Barry Windham, Slick, Hillbilly Jim and The Red Rooster, all in close quarters.... Yeah, I didn't think you could.
Not only were these folks featured in trading card form, but there multiple cards of each superstar, and each had its own customized logo. Sure, you'd seen Hulk Hogan's logo on Saturday Night's Main Event a zillion times, but Slick's???
Mind you, Rooster and Hillbilly were hardly the only members of the mid-card to be given the cardboard treatment. As you see here, Wrestling Superstar Virgil had his own card, as did everyone's favorite jobber, Barry Horowitz (and in case you're wondering, this is WELL before he upset Bodydonna Skip and temporarily shed his jabroni skin.... so Bad Barry is still at the bottom of the heap here.
And these weren't the only D.L.'s (designated losers) in the bunch - you also had Paul Roma, Koko B. Ware, The Genius and Danny Davis represented in the 145 card collection. This was definitely a first for the wrestling card industry: Vince McMahon would have never made Tiger Chung Lee or Iron Mike Sharpe trading cards.
What the.... whoa! Dude!
What we have here is a Jack Tunney (rookie?) card. For those of you don't remember, Tunney was the long-serving World Wrestling Federation President, who made such landmark decisions as suspending Ravishing Rick Rude for making disparaging comments about The Big Bossman's mother and giving Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan trophies on concurrent editions of Piper's Pit. He was also punked out by Bad News Brown for (allegedly) giving Miss Elizabeth preferential treatment in exchange for unspecified "favors", The allegations were never proven in a court of law.
You guys, if you never heard of Jack Tunney before now, this was the figurehead president in an era before they were all cookie-cutter heel characters on weekly television, or guys who would force loudmouth bad guys to "go one-on-one tonight with The Undertaker, playa."
He was just some middle-aged white guy in a suit. And here he was finally captured in trading card format. JACK F'NG TUNNEY!!!
Of course, the Classic WWF collection wasn't just about jobbers-to-the-stars and figurehead promoters. It was also about wrestlers who would die within the next couple of decades.
Think about this row, which I'm sure is in card set order and certainly wasn't re-arranged by me on my scanner: "Classy" Freddie Blassie went to eternally rest with pencil-neck geeks in 2003; Dino Bravo set the benchpress record in heaven by '93; Bad News Brown was bullying beer-bellied sharecropper zombies by 2007; and Mr. Perfect was swatting away his gum in the afterlife by 2003.
Very sad to see just how many of these guys have left us since the printing on this collection...
WHAT THE HELL? This is, like, the saddest collection of trading cards ever assembled!
From the top of Death Row to the bottom, we've got Ultimate Warrior (died 2014); Randy Savage (2011); Ravishing Rick Rude (1999); Big Boss Man (2004); Sensational Sherri (2007); Hercules (2004); Miss Elizabeth (2003) and Andre The Giant (1993).
For someone who grew up watching all of these characters on Saturday afternoons (and seeing all of them except for Blassie at live events over the years), it's quite sad to see how many of them have passed away a such early ages.
Of course.... THIS is more of what one thinks when they talk about Classic WWF! Two of the all-time great champions - Hulk Hogan and Bret "Hit Man" Hart.
I'd be remiss if I didn't cover off some of the superstars I failed to scan for this piece, including The Rockers, Mean Gene Okerlund, Brutus The Barber Beefcake, Demolition, Greg Valentine, Akeem, The Bushwhackers, Bobby The Brain Heenan, Gorilla Monsoon, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Jesse The Body Ventura, Jim The Anvil Neidhart and, for some reason, announcer Sean Mooney.
In addition, there were roughly a dozen logo cards that came with this collection. Sure, they didn't have Danny Davis ones, but if you needed a pair of sunglasses with the name "Koko B. Ware" in Mistral font, you were in luck.
Classic WWF cards came back at least one more time (the blue-framed 1991 series), but this collection was still the most unique one out there. President Jack Tunney ordered it so.